Researcher. Collaborator. Teacher.
Thomas has led workshops, residencies, and semester-long coursework at institutions including Lincoln Center Theater, Ping Chong + Company, New York University, Ball State University, DePaul University, Virginia Tech, Beloit College, the Illinois High School Theatre Festival, the Virginia Thespian Conference, and numerous secondary schools.
Thomas creates, devises, and directs theater productions with student collaborators and performers ranging from middle school to university. He has facilitated devising residencies with both high school and collegiate theater programs through classroom-based arts projects and with extracurricular arts programs.
In 2017, Thomas was the co-facilitator of Ping Chong + Company's DevisingHUB program at CUNY's Baruch College in New York City.
Inspired by the work of Elevator Repair Service and Ping Chong + Company, Thomas investigates multimedia approaches to contemporary theater and new ways of storytelling. Through collaboration, students generate original ideas, images, texts, and material in a workshop environment. With an emphasis on process over product, actors are introduced into the mixed-media storytelling.
Integrated media may include video, projected still imagery, shadow puppetry, and word art, among others.
Community Cultural Development
As an interdisciplinary practitioner, Thomas values the grassroots, community-based integration of theater and the arts into the life of communities of place – as both a creative practice and a domain for scholarly research. His projects routinely incorporate collaboration with urban planners, engineers, historians, and the public sector.
This groundwork is essential for theatre's potential as an agent for social justice in a community.
Acting and Scene Study
Thomas works with student actors to develop a character at a basic level using objectives, tactics, focus, and imagination. His coursework stresses the importance of collaboration and ensemble work in the creative process.
His coursework and coaching around the performance of documentary / non-fiction texts are of particular acclaim.
As the co-founder and former artistic director of Chicago's Waltzing Mechanics, Thomas teaches production organization, decision making and governance, organizational direction and planning, hiring and unions, the collaborative process, motivation, and organizational design.
His interdisciplinary research in the crafting of original documentary drama has included collaborations with faculty at Northwestern University, Texas A&M, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Virginia, Georgia Tech, Portland State University, Virginia Tech, Columbia College Chicago, Loyola University Chicago, The New School, and New York University.